Along with a shift to more four-man fronts, the Detroit Lions defensive line will also have a different mode/mentality this year.
Upon review of last year’s (often dismal) results by defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, the Detroit Lions will shift to using more four-man defensive fronts this year. Three-man fronts aren’t going away totally, the Lions’ defense will just be more variable.
After the draft, defensive line coach Todd Wash hinted at his unit playing in a different mode.
"We were a read front last year. Now we’re attacking. We’re getting off the ball and playing at the heels of the offensive line.“It’s going to have us be more physical and aggressive up front.”"
During OTAs last week, Glenn and head coach Dan Campbell each followed up by citing the change in how the Lions’ defensive line will play.
Here are Campbell’s comments, via SI.com:
"I just think more of it is, I just call it much more ‘Hitting the blocks.’ I don’t want to say we were catching, and it wasn’t two-gap, we just were a little more, ‘Play at the line of scrimmage,’ where now we really want to play more on their side of the line of scrimmage,” “That’s the best way to describe it.”"
Scheme shift brings obvious change for Detroit Lions defensive line
In a 3-4 base defensive scheme, like the Lions used last season, defensive lineman will most often engage and hold the point of attack in the run game against interior offensive lineman so the linebackers can flow to the ball easier. The 28th ranked run defense in the league last year (135.1 yards allowed per game) showed what they did didn’t work well enough, even skewed by a few particularly bad outings.
Last year’s struggles are not all on the defensive line, as the Lions’ linebackers weren’t too great themselves much of the time. But something had to change, and a shift in scheme as well as a change in mentality along the defensive front is a good start.